I don't want to lose the love of my life.
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06-01-2017, 07:35 AM
Sad I don't want to lose the love of my life.
My Story and My Issue

Hello all. I will start with my background.

I am a 47 year old male from Massachusetts USA. I have lived in Mass my entire life. My parents weren’t particularly religious when I was young (Mother was raised Catholic and my father attended a protestant church with his mother, his father was an agnostic.) In my early teens my mother started pursuing religion with a passion and my father went along for the ride. I was dragged to several churches, some of which freaked me out a bit. They settled for a nondenominational Christian church, but buy then I was in my late teens and rarely attended. They also opened two Christian book stores in the late 80’s and sold them off in the early 2000’s.

I worked in those book stores for quite a few years. It was a good experience, but it didn’t help my faith at all. I learned that Christians are just like non-Christians; some are nice people and some are jerks. I also discovered that many Christian pastors are jerks outside of their church environment. This didn’t help to bolster what little faith I had at the time.

I got married in my early 20’s to a woman, who wasn’t particularly religious. However she was just a mess of a person, but I didn’t discover this until after we were married. It really wasn’t her fault, as she had been horribly sexually abused as a child. But, we ended up divorced because she was unwilling to seek help and her behaviors were just not conducive to a happy marriage (example: Cheating often).

About a year after my divorce I reconnected with my childhood through high school sweetheart. She was recently divorced as well and had a very young daughter. We got back together and things have gone very well for the last 14+ years. She was raised by extremely devout born again Christians who were (and still are) heavily involved in a Baptist church. They are founding members of that church. For the first few years we were back together we did not pursue church. But then my wife began to show more interest. Her reason was church, and religion in general, makes her feel “secure” and generally good. She also wanted her daughter to have that same experience and sense of security as she grew up. I agreed to start attending church. I also made up my mind to really put my heart into it and try to find the “magic” in religion.

We’ve been attending this church for around 8-9 years. We’ve had some very good things come from it. We took a finance class that has made our finance life much better, but it has nothing to do with God. We were one out of about 20 couples and individuals who took the course, and we are pretty much the only couple who succeeded with it. This is due to the fact that both my wife and I are just have great will power and dedication. We stuck with it, even though it was very tough for about 2 years. Anyway…We have also attended a couples class, that was ok but nothing special. As the years past my wife has become more and more involved (2 bible study groups, volunteering for many event, attending special events (we went to one with Kirk Cameron recently – and it was horrible, but she loved it), constantly watching videos on YouTube (Joyce Meyers and others), and constantly communicating with church members on Facebook. Me, on the other hand, will not get involved in this stuff. I do greeting duty once per month and attend services….but that is it. My wife and her father have tried hard to push me to get involved in the “men’s ministry” and go on “men’s outings.” But I avoid this like the plague. They are nice guys, but all they do is constantly preach. So my wife is aware of my doubts. She knows I have questions, but we can’t have a conversation about them because she just gets defensive. So we followed this routine for years, me doing the minimum and her getting more and more involved.

Then something happened that I didn’t expect. About 18 months ago, at the end of a church service, our pastor hefted his bible over his head and said, “If you don’t believe that this [the bible] is the irrefutable, inerrant, historically accurate, perfectly god inspired word of god…than you are not a Christian.” That was not a good thing for him to say. See, I’m not the type of guy to back down from a challenge. As far as I was concerned our pastor just threw down the gauntlet! The first thing that came to mind was the story of Noah. I thought to myself, “There is NO way that story is historically accurate!” Then I made a horrible decision….I was going to actually read the bible from genesis to revelations, and take notes.

As of today I have reached 1 Peter, so I am in the home stretch. However, I can’t express enough how painful this has been. After I got about 60% if the way through the old testament, I had to take a 2 month break. I was actually so frustrated that it was causing me stress. I was thinking to myself, “This book is HORRIFIC!” There is just soooo much killing and atrocities. There is so much that is ludicrous (like the talking donkey!) and downright stupid. I kept telling myself, “I just need to get to the new testament. That is where it should get better.” But when I reached the four gospels I found more ludicrous stuff and soooo many discrepancies between the four accounts. The book of Acts is no better, and the other books I’ve read are not any better. I am dreading reading revelations because I know it is chalk full of ridiculous symbolic “supposedly” prophetic things.

The bible has killed what little faith I had. It has destroyed any hope I had for believing in God, and heaven. Ultimately just the Christian idea of an omnibenevolent god and the idea of hell cannot coexist. That in and of itself was enough to kill my faith. A just, morale god would never condemn a person to an eternity of horrible suffering for finite sins.

So, here I am. The bible and my rational mind have destroyed my faith. I don’t feel bad about losing my faith. I actually feel relieved. My mind has refocused on the here and now. My life, ever moment of it, feels more valuable because when it is over it is actually over. However, I am now feeling sick with worry about my relationship with my wife. If I tell her I no longer believe she will not take it well. Last night I tested waters with her. She knows I’m reading the bible and taking notes. She wasn’t happy with me doing this, but as a good Christian can she really suggest I stop reading the bible? So, last night I asked her if she news the body count of everyone god has either personally killed or gave direct orders to kill, in the bible? She said no. I said, 2.8 million if you count the numbers listed in the bible, but it is an estimated 25 million if you include events with no numbers like the flood and Sodom and Gomorra. She did not take this well. She started by replying, “Well I’m not surprised. We are like ants to God.” I was shocked and (stupidly) replied, “Aren’t we all God’s children?” That was it. She responded, “I can’t believe you are just focusing on the negative stuff in the bible.” She was not happy with me. I dropped the subject.

So, here I am, extremely worried I will lose the love of my life over a book full of poorly written fairytales that clearly demonstrate that god doesn’t care about human life and is willing to make us suffer an eternity of torment and suffering if we don’t have faith in, love and worship him. (Not to mention her parents and my elderly mother who will be heart broken.) So, now I have to figure out my plan of action. Do I just pretend I believe (go along to get along), or do I (eventually) tell her the truth and hope it doesn’t end our marriage.

Thanks for reading. Any replies are welcome.
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06-01-2017, 07:48 AM
RE: I don't want to lose the love of my life.
Hello Sean, my husband and I are both atheist so I'm not in the best place to give advice, there are plenty of people here in 'mixed' relationships though. Just wanted to say hi, and thanks for sharing your story, it seems that quite a few former believers are turned by a thorough reading of the bible!

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06-01-2017, 07:49 AM
RE: I don't want to lose the love of my life.
(06-01-2017 07:35 AM)Sean Jacobs Wrote:  ...
So, now I have to figure out my plan of action. Do I just pretend I believe (go along to get along), or do I (eventually) tell her the truth and hope it doesn’t end our marriage.

Thanks for reading. Any replies are welcome.

Some experiences change us. Maybe all.

It's like the first time you made the other children in class laugh. Now you're a comic already?

Or it's like the moment in dance class when your feet are moving without you telling them to. Now you're a dancer?

You weren't before but now you are.

The trick is realising, and more importantly in this case showing, that you are not a different, redefined person because something was lost but that you are the same person that she always knew ... plus something.

Hug

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06-01-2017, 08:30 AM (This post was last modified: 06-01-2017 08:33 AM by jennybee.)
RE: I don't want to lose the love of my life.
I've been on both sides-I was a hardcore Christian in a rship with an agnostic who was leaning toward atheism and now I'm an an atheist in a rship with someone who now has a desire to believe, although still classifies himself as agnostic. And guess what, it's the same rship, we just both changed our viewpoints on things throughout the years. It was a bizarre shift no doubt and really put some stress on our rship. I do sometimes worry that his newfound desire to believe might have had something to do with me as a christian because I literally saw God's hand in everything and would be vocal with him about it--and now he's starting to do the same thing to me. Not all the time, but something will happen and he'll say things like "This is what sometimes makes me think something is out there, everything happens for a reason etc. "

Anyway, my point to my post is, I was extremely religious at one point in my life, to the point where I lived my life for God and I never saw that changing. What changed was actually reading the entire Bible (along with commentary books) and it read like a fairy tale. And the *scholarly* commentaries provided additional info as to why people believed as they did (and yeah, not due to magic). The most important part of this, is that I had to come to this conclusion on my own. If someone tried to push it on me, I would have retreated to God because I would view that person as someone who was trying to tear me away from my faith.

So what to do in your situation? Be patient with her. Don't go on the attack, like how can you possibly believe all of this!!?? Instead, get some scholarly commentaries (IVP Bible Commentaries for OT and NT and Bart Ehrman's Intro to OT and Intro to NT) and make a plan to read the Bible together. Make it about learning about the religion she loves, if you go from that angle, she's more apt to do it and not feel threatened re: her beliefs. She needs to see for herself, come to the conclusion herself that her beliefs are not reality based. But you need to be patient with her.

I never thought I would leave God or religion and was taught atheists were devil worshipers and all-around bad people. Yet another lie by my church Wink If I could come out from religion and I was a Jesus freak (and yea I was all about Candace Cameron at the time, so you know my level of Jesus crazy)--If I could do it, so can your wife. It is possible.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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06-01-2017, 08:31 AM
RE: I don't want to lose the love of my life.
Do not pretend to believe or just go along with it. On the other hand, is there really any reason to confront your wife on this? Just let it be; things will likely calm down.

You don't need to go to church with her or participate in other religious activities.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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06-01-2017, 08:54 AM
RE: I don't want to lose the love of my life.
I don't have the background, but I have seen enough here to know that you came to the right place for help. It is a fine line but others have negotiated it successfully.
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06-01-2017, 09:52 AM
RE: I don't want to lose the love of my life.
(06-01-2017 08:30 AM)jennybee Wrote:  So what to do in your situation? Be patient with her. Don't go on the attack, like how can you possibly believe all of this!!?? Instead, get some scholarly commentaries (IVP Bible Commentaries for OT and NT and Bart Ehrman's Intro to OT and Intro to NT) and make a plan to read the Bible together. Make it about learning about the religion she loves, if you go from that angle, she's more apt to do it and not feel threatened re: her beliefs. She needs to see for herself, come to the conclusion herself that her beliefs are not reality based. But you need to be patient with her.

Thank you very much for the advice jennybee. This is very helpful. I've known and been in love with my wife since I first met her when we were both 8 years old. I want to spend the rest of my life with her and I am willing to what it takes to make this work. I hope my worry is not warranted.
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06-01-2017, 09:54 AM
RE: I don't want to lose the love of my life.
(06-01-2017 07:35 AM)Sean Jacobs Wrote:  Do I just pretend I believe (go along to get along), or do I (eventually) tell her the truth and hope it doesn’t end our marriage.

Thanks for reading. Any replies are welcome.
In all honesty you are in a difficult position.

I lost my faith over a period of years during my second marriage. During this time my wife was in the processing dying, slowly and painfully, from an incurable rare neuroimmune disease. As you can imagine her demise had something to do with influencing my beliefs, but it was both broader and deeper than that.

Naively, I was open with my wife throughout this whole process. For once, my naivety did not result in me being hosed over. I think because my wife and I had always been completely open, sharing our thoughts in real time. And our relationship had never been based on our shared faith, but on our shared experiences and admiration for each other's personhood. So although she remained an evangelical / rural Methodist believer to the end, my deconversion had zero impact on our relationship. Also as a practical matter I suppose that the painful shared experience of facing her illness and suffering together was a great binding influence that would have taken the place of any "glue" that might otherwise have been provided by our religion.

Whatever the reason I am glad I was open / honest and glad my wife responded appropriately and remained true to our mutual commitment to each other.

I don't pretend to know how that would work out in your case but it does seem as though it's inherently dishonest to live an increasingly egregious lie to preserve a relationship that you perceive, rightly or wrongly, to be contingent upon that lie.

Only you can decide if the relationship is worth it. I doubt any relationship is. It really just comes down to this: ending any relationship with a significant other is always going to be more painful in the short term, and potentially in some ways even the medium or long term, than not ending it. I can't thread that needle for you and your wife and any children involved. But it would be my impulse to gradually introduce your wife to your thinking while doing your best to reassure you that your love for her and the way you treat her will in no way change.

If she decides to see this as a betrayal, as a character defect on the order of announcing that you're an axe murderer or pederast, then it just is what it is. If you already are certain that would be her reaction, then it is just down to living a lie vs bailing.
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06-01-2017, 10:14 AM
RE: I don't want to lose the love of my life.
(06-01-2017 09:54 AM)mordant Wrote:  I don't pretend to know how that would work out in your case but it does seem as though it's inherently dishonest to live an increasingly egregious lie to preserve a relationship that you perceive, rightly or wrongly, to be contingent upon that lie.

But it would be my impulse to gradually introduce your wife to your thinking while doing your best to reassure you that your love for her and the way you treat her will in no way change.

If she decides to see this as a betrayal, as a character defect on the order of announcing that you're an axe murderer or pederast, then it just is what it is. If you already are certain that would be her reaction, then it is just down to living a lie vs bailing.

Thank you mordant. I agree, I don't want to live a lie. That isn't fair to either of us. It is good advice to gradually voice my opinions. However, my wife can be fairly ridged in her thinking, especially with religion. She has a very hard time seeing things from anyone else's perspective. Inevitably we will end up having the conversation. She knows me very well, and knows I will remain the same person who loves her and will not hurt her. But, I am fairly certain she will feel betrayed and angry...and she will question if she can stay with me if we are not on the "same path."
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06-01-2017, 10:22 AM
RE: I don't want to lose the love of my life.
Your story is very similar to mine in many ways. I lived with and tried to ignore serious doubts for many years. I finally read the bible cover-to-cover and that killed any remnants of faith that might have existed. My ex-wife, who was my high school "sweetheart", was also experiencing a simultaneous growth in faith and involvement in church. For us, even though I tried to be very non-confrontational about it, it was the death nail for our marriage. However, there were lots of extenuating circumstances. Our marriage was already troubled by a variety of other issues and open and honest communication was not easy. My ex used my loss of faith as her own personal scapegoat. She blamed any negative emotion I had on the fact that I had forsaken god and she refused to accept any responsibility for her part in the decline of our marriage. I obviously needed to be fixed, and god was the only way that could happen.

With that said, I would just be honest with her about your beliefs and try to be understanding of the way the news will affect her. If the foundation for a good marriage (trust, honesty and communication) is there, I feel like it is workable.

I just wanted to let you know that I love you even though you aren't naked right now. Heart
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